Honored viewers, welcome to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home where we are presenting the conclusion of a two-part program featuring a number of short films from “The Gathering Storm: The Human Cost of Climate Change.”

This series is comprised of 18 brief films and covers the effects of climate change across Asia and Africa. “The Gathering Storm” was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), a humanitarian news and analysis service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The work has garnered numerous awards, including being named a winner at the 2009 Bangkok HRA Festival and Kos International Film Festival. This week we will show another five chapters from the series: all focusing on Asia. We begin with “Melting Glaciers.”

The Gathering Storm Melting Glaciers
Khumjung, Nepal

The Nepal Himalaya is home to most of the world's highest peaks. But it’s also on the front line on the fight against climate change. Rivers that start in these mountains provide more than a quarter of the world's population with its water. And the source of that water is running dry. Dawa Sherpa is a world class mountaineer who’s climbed Everest twice and seen the signs of climate change first hand.

Kumbila – here is a mountain that is almost 6,000 meters, 5,800 (meters in height). And in my father’s time, when he was younger, they used to have a glacier up there and that’s where the fresh water used to come from. The ice would melt and it would come down these little streams here, as you can see. But now there is no glacier, so the ice isn’t melting. Now our village is suffering chronic water shortages.

Still only 24 years old, Dawa Sherpa has already won many plaudits and awards for his environmental work. And right now he’s working on a plan to solve the water crisis in his village.


Okay, welcome back.

Oh, thank you.

Together with fellow residents of Khumjung, Dawa hopes to build a gravity- fed water system that will pipe water from the nearest lake, five kilometers away. But until they can raise the money, they depend on snowfall to keep the taps running. A centuries-old way of life is under threat.

Water is so scarce everywhere.

Oh, really?

Yes, we only have access to one source. And even that is proving very hard to find.

Everything looks so dry. How much ice used to be up there?

The whole place used to be covered with ice. When I was young, one meter of snow was very normal. But now if we get six inches of snow, then that is a lot of snow.

There are many thousands more villages like this across the Himalayas, all of them now facing an uncertain future.

In our Buddhist mantra, it says it’s like heaven here, all around the mountain here, and a very clean environment here. So if we leave here, then where will we go? So we have to pray, God. Not to move, please.

The Gathering Storm Holy Forests
Prey Koki Forest, Cambodia

In a quiet forest in a corner of eastern Cambodia, Buddhist monks pray for peace. Forests have always played a crucial role in the imagination of Buddhists worldwide. It was after all beneath a tree that the Buddha himself achieved enlightenment.

But there’s something special about this forest. The Prey Koki Forest was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War. And even now, the forest is full of ponds formed by bomb craters. And those trees that were left standing by the B-52s (aircraft) were then cleared by the loggers.

But over the last 15 years, Prey Koki has been reborn. And it’s largely thanks to this man, the Venerable Nhem Kim Teng. As a local monk in need of a forest to meditate in, he formed a group called Santi Sena, or the Peace Army, and set about replanting the forest from scratch. And as the relationship between trees and climate became better understood, their work took on even greater urgency.

Come on everyone. Come and help. Hold the tree straight and cover it with soil. Here in Cambodia our climate is changing. It’s getting hotter and the rainfall is irregular. But we believe that these trees can bring rain, and help the farmers with their crops and daily life.

So Khan is a farmer who has lived here most of his 54 years, and has faced a growing struggle cultivating rice. This year the rain has come early so he is preparing to plant. But last year, the rains failed and so did his crops.

After the rice failed, I tried growing watermelon, then morning glory and then nuts. After that failed, I sat idle at home until finally I was forced to go to town and get construction work.

Back in the forest, the monks are preparing to head back to their villages, and they’ll be carrying an important message with them.

Go back to your villages and your pagodas, and tell people about the advantages of planting trees.

Just outside the forest, local farmers like So Khan have gathered to pray for a good harvest and to make offerings to the monks. So Khan and his fellow farmers don’t have much to give. But they know that like planting trees, every little bit counts.

The Gathering Storm Swapping Crops
Jugedi, Nepal

In the hills of southern Nepal, change is afoot. The crops that are traditionally grown here like rice, corn, and wheat have been hard hit by irregular rainfall patterns. And over the course of the last decade, their cultivation has become increasingly difficult, leading some farmers to think the unthinkable. In a country where rice enjoys almost god-like status, giving up its cultivation is not an easy decision to make. But for 24-year-old Pushkar Timilsina, hardship left him no choice.

Every year we would plant new seeds and work hard in the field, but the food would only last us three months. This left us no choice but to try something else.

So Pushkar learned how to grow bananas instead, a decision that was not popular with his father.

For the last six years, we have had less and less rain and today it’s almost completely dry. I shouted at him that his plan was impossible. What could we possibly expect to get from bananas? But my son said he didn’t care what I thought and that he was going to go ahead regardless. There was no banana farming here before. But now it’s becoming more common.

But now you’re glad we did it.

Yes, you were right.

And Pushkar’s father remembers the day his opposition crumbled, the day his wife came back from market having sold their banana crop for double the amount they were getting for rice. Now the whole family's committed to growing bananas.

Hallo. Blessings on you.

Hallo. Blessings on you.

Hallo. Blessings on you.

So how are the bananas doing?

Very good, thanks.

They look healthy.

Dinanath Bhandari works for the aid agency, Practical Action, who run crop substitution programs like this one. But as he himself cautions, climate change will remain a serious challenge for the people of Nepal.

If the climate change worsens, then one day it might not be able to provide them sufficient food. Then again they will have to switch to other crops. If they fail to adapt to the changing climate scenario, if they cannot withstand the impact of climate change, they will lose the crop. Imagine, it’s a situation that is do or die. Either you adapt or you will die.

The Gathering Storm Boat Schools
Shidhulai, Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries on Earth, with tens of millions of people at risk from floods and cyclones. And every year in Bangladesh, thousands of schools are forced to close by the onset of the monsoon rains. Even though she’s only eight years old, Mosa Khatoon has already missed many school days to floods.

But thanks to a former Shidhulai resident turned successful big city architect, Mosa hasn’t missed a day of school since 2006. Mohammed Rezwan was once himself unable to go to school during the monsoon, so as soon as he could afford it, he gave up architecture and went back to his village.

By 2050, 17% of Bangladesh land will be under sea water. So it is better for us to adapt to the situation. And our project, the floating education system, it addresses ways people can survive during the flooding.

Imagine that he spent 60 cents. How much would that leave him with?

In our country we have floods two or three times a year. During the floods other schools go underwater, but the boat school never goes underwater.

We have a successful model of using boats for schooling, library, and training centers. From 18 boats, around 1,500 children have benefitted. And from the 10 boat libraries, around 15,000 users have benefitted from access to information, books and also the online resources like the daily newspapers.

The Gathering Storm Floating Gardens
Gopalgonj, Bangladesh

When it rains very heavily our homes and fields get flooded. But these vegetables on the floating gardens manage to survive. I make curries out of these vegetables, and this allows me to feed my children.

Sujit Mondal and his wife Rupashi live in one of the most flood-prone areas of Bangladesh, and for six months of the year their fields are flooded. So every year they build floating gardens out of water hyacinth and straw and grow their crops here instead.

The floods we see now are much bigger than when my grandfather was alive. When we have big floods, we take refuge on the floating gardens. We live here with our belongings, our animals and harvest, and stay here for days.

The technology behind the floating gardens is a simple one that’s been practiced for centuries. During prolonged flood seasons, it can make the difference between life and death. So much so that environmental researcher Fahmi Al Zayed is trying to encourage communities throughout Bangladesh to adopt the technique.

This practice should spread to other regions because Bangladesh is a flood prone area. Due to climate change, the frequency of floods is going to increase.

To close, we would like to sincerely thank the Integrated Regional Information Networks and the United Nations Environment Programme for producing “The Gathering Storm: The Human Cost of Climate Change,” an important series that is building awareness about climate change and how it is affecting people in real life.

To view and download “The Gathering Storm” and other films produced by the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN),
please visit www.IRINNEWS.org
Find out about the United Nations Environment Programme at www.UNEP.org

Amiable viewers, thank you for your presence today on our program. Next on Supreme Master Television is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May Heaven forever bless our planet.